Germany - Nutrition

Malnutrition is a growing development priority for Germany

Tackling malnutrition, especially in pregnant women, mothers, and young children, is one of Germany’s key development priorities. It fits within the country’s larger focus on agricultural and rural development for food and nutrition security. 

Nutrition is an explicit focus of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’s Special Initiative ‘One World - No Hunger’. It was launched in 2014 to advance food and nutrition security and rural development. In 2020, €455million (US$537 million) will be channeled through this initiative, including a raise of €80 million (US$94 million), to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the 2021 budget draft, the initiative is set to receive €525 million (US$620 million) in 2021. According to BMZ’s latest reform program (launched in May 2020), ‘One World – No Hunger’ is one of BMZ’s five key thematic priorities, which should last beyond legislative periods. 

The 2017 to 2021 coalition treaty emphasizes that Germany will continue to support nutrition and just access to land and will work to oppose speculation on food products that artificially inflates prices. 
Germany was the driving force behind the G7’s ‘Broad Food Security and Nutrition Development Approach’, which was developed in 2015. This is another manifestation of the growing importance of nutrition within Germany’s development cooperation. In June 2013, Germany committed US$260 million for nutrition (2013 to 2020) at the Nutrition for Growth Summit and is considering topping up its pledge at the replenishment summit in December 2021. 

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) data, Germany spent US$29 million on nutrition-specific (see box for definition) projects in 2018. (These are projects that are reported to the OECD Creditor’s Reporting System database under the ‘basic nutrition’ purpose code.) Germany focuses its nutrition-specific interventions primarily on maternal and child health.

Nutrition-specific: Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Nutrition-sensitive: Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).

It is more difficult to quantify donor support for nutrition-sensitive (see box for definition) interventions due to their multi-sectoral nature, however, according to the 2020 ‘Global Nutrition Report ’, which relies on figures reported by donors themselves, Germany spent US$156 million on nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2017 (the latest year for which data is available), down from US$206 million in 2016. Germany’s nutrition-sensitive support focuses on improving the quality and diversity of food and improving access to nutritious food. Additional priorities related to nutrition include improving access to safe drinking water, health care, social protection, and knowledge on food storage and preparation. Based on BMZ’s ongoing commitment to food and nutrition security and given the threat the COVID-19 pandemic poses to food security, Germany’s investment in nutrition-sensitive interventions is likely to remain stable.

BMZ shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition

The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) shapes Germany’s policy on nutrition. It applies a multisectoral approach, combining nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is also a relevant actor in Germany’s engagement in the fight against malnutrition. It represents Germany at the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and hosts the annual international conferences ‘Policies against Hunger’ and ‘Global Forum for Food and Agriculture’.